Looking to beat the January blues but money is tight after Christmas? Help is at hand.
Which? has revealed the five long-haul winter sun destinations that offer the most bang for your buck, from the UAE to Asia, and from the Caribbean to the USA.
The watchdog’s research has found that return flights to LA, the Dominican Republic and Abu Dhabi average less than £500 between January and February. And while India is expensive to fly to, once you get there, decent accommodation – classed as three to four-star hotels for this study – is available for £64 per night. Thailand, meanwhile, is even cheaper for hotel stays. Here’s where to go for a budget break in the sun this winter…
Abu Dhabi, UAE. Return flight – £441, hotel – £68, and an average maximum temperature of 25C
The cheapest long-haul winter sun destinations for Britons have been revealed by Which?, with a hotel stay in Abu Dhabi (above) priced at just £68 per night
By choosing Abu Dhabi over popular UAE winter-sun destination Dubai, you could save up to £100 a night on accommodation, Which? reveals.
Sun worshippers will be ‘spoiled for choice’ when it comes to beaches, with Abu Dhabi Beach offering skyline views and the golden shores of Saadiyat Island primed for water sports. Plus, Which? notes that there’s a ‘wide choice’ of theme parks for families.
It continues: ‘For sightseeing, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Qasr Al-Waṭan presidential palace are among the city’s most impressive examples of Islamic architecture.’
India. Return flight – £1,052, hotel – £64, and an average maximum temperature of 24C
Laze on the beaches of Goa (above) on a budget break in India, where decent accommodation is priced at £64 per night
For holidaymakers hoping for a beach break, one of the recommendations from Which? is to head to Goa in the south of India, which experiences highs of 32 degrees Celsius in February.
A good inland option, meanwhile, is the Golden Triangle – Delhi, Agra and Jaipur – which can be explored independently or on a guided tour. In these destinations, temperatures sit around the low 20s in January, making for weather that’s ‘warm, but comfortable enough for sightseeing’.
Top sights to see, according to Which?, include Delhi’s museums, palaces and religious buildings, the Tomb of Akbar the Great in Agra, and the pink ‘Palace of the Winds’ in Jaipur.
Thailand; return flight – £540, hotel – £50, average maximum temperature – 33C
You’ll pay around £50 a night for a three or four-star hotel in Thailand. While there, kick back and relax in the beach resorts in Krabi province (pictured)
Which? says that Thailand is the cheapest winter sun destination for accommodation, with three to four-star hotels typically costing the same as a three-course dinner for two. The country is also one of the watchdog’s overall best-value destinations for 2023.
Which? reveals: ‘Most international flights land in Bangkok and whatever your onward travel plans, you should allow some time to explore this vast metropolis.’
The watchdog suggests heading to the beach resorts in Krabi province or on the island of Phuket before exploring the temples and wildlife of Chiang Mai in the north. To save on a night’s accommodation en route, Which? recommends travelling via Thailand’s cross-country trains and sleeper services.
Los Angeles, USA. Return flight – £447, hotel – £167, and an average maximum temperature of 20C
Which? has found that return flights to Los Angeles (above) are priced at just £447
‘You’ll soon realise upon visiting LA that it’s much more than its pop culture references to Hollywood and Beverly Hills,’ Which? reveals.
It says that first-time visitors ought to try a Universal Studios tour before checking out the city’s various art, science and history museums.
Which? also suggests hiking to the top of Runyon Canyon Park for views across the entire city, watching a baseball game at the Dodgers Stadium and dining on street food from the Grand Central Market. To enjoy the city’s beach scene, go sunbathing on Santa Monica Beach or head to Muscle Beach, where you’ll spot bodybuilders working out.
Dominican Republic. Return flight – £465, hotel – £162, and an average maximum temperature of 28C
When you arrive in the Dominican Republic, hop on a cheap charter flight to the beaches of Punta Cana in the southeast (above)
Which? reveals that the Dominican Republic is one of the best-value Caribbean islands to visit at any time of year, but hotels are up to £35 cheaper per night in January and February.
As a bonus, it notes that this time of year is ‘prime time’ for whale watching, with Peninsula de Samana described as one of the ‘best spots to find humpback whales breaching off the coast’.
For a relaxing beach break, Which? recommends hopping on a cheap charter flight to either Puerto Plata along the northern coast or Punta Cana in the southeast. Alternatively, go hiking in the green mountains around Jarabaco in the centre of the country. Which? says that this region has a great selection of inexpensive boutique guesthouses.
Commenting on the findings, Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said: ‘If you’re looking for a last-minute escape from the blustery British weather, we’ve crunched the numbers to find the cheapest destinations offering a fix of winter sunshine, taking into account flight prices, hotels, and the average cost of expenses such as food and drink.
‘Flights to far-flung locations including LA, the Dominican Republic and Abu Dhabi can be found for less than £500 return on average, and while destinations such as India and Thailand may have slightly more expensive flights, they offer great value in terms of meals and accommodation. High-quality accommodation can be found in India for less than £65 a night, while a three or four-star hotel can be booked in Thailand for around £50 a night.’
To scout the cheapest winter-sun destinations, Which? looked at the average cost of flights and three to four-star hotels in January and February in 2020 and 2022.
Flight prices in the study have been provided by Skyscanner and hotel prices by the travel company Kayak. Temperatures are averages for January and February from Weather2travel.com, and the cost of a three-course meal is informed by the Post Office Holiday Costs Barometer 2022.